Alternative high school students to help homeless

MARQUETTE – Students in the Marquette Alternative High School will wear their craziest socks Thursday to help raise awareness of the plight of the homeless in the area during the winter.

The students have organized a fundraiser called “Rock the Socks,” that is looking to collect new winter socks.

And they’ve set their sights high, hoping to collect at least 200 pairs.

“We did a little bit of research and found out that they do food drives and hat drives, mitten drives and coat drives, but they don’t do a sock drive,” MAHS English teacher Cindy DePetro said.

The fundraiser is scheduled to take place Thursday. People can drop off the socks in the Marquette Alternative High School or in Hotplate on Washington Street in downtown Marquette.

Once the students decided to do the project, things came together quickly. They distributed fliers advertising the event and made the rounds to several local media outlets, hoping to get the word out.

DePetro said the class then decided, as a group, to contact other local high schools, to see if their students would also be interested in participating. What happened came as a surprise to the entire class.

Every single school they contacted jumped right on board.

Collection boxes will be available Thursday in the alternative high school, Marquette Senior High School, Westwood High School, Gwinn High School, North Star Academy, Sandy Knoll Elementary School, Superior Hills Elementary School, Negaunee High School and Ishpeming High School. Each box will be outside the school’s main administrative office.

The students said they wanted to involve as many schools as possible, hoping that more drop off sites will mean more socks collected.

“People aren’t going to come (to MAHS) from Negaunee to drop off socks,” said MAHS senior Jayda Muljo. “They’d much rather just go to the school there and drop them off there, so that’ll be way better for the fundraiser, doing that.”

MAHS sophomore Saara Kilpela said she thought it was “awesome” that so many schools joined in the effort.

“To some schools, we might be seen as bad. We don’t necessarily have the best reputation,” Kilpela said. “But, it’s just awesome that … they all agreed and we’re coming together.”

DePetro said a negative perception is often associated with alternative schools. But, she said, MAHS students have organized many fundraisers – including one to help pay for the cancer treatment of a patient who may not be able to afford it otherwise – as well as organized a march against bullying that saw community leaders and high school students come together, marching through downtown Marquette.

“These kids are extremely giving and caring,” DePetro said. “I’m so impressed that kids that don’t have can still come up with something and give time and time again. I see that in this building, whether they’re helping each other out or helping the community.”

The socks will be donated to a charity of each school’s choice.

MAHS will be giving its youth socks to Marquette Area Public Schools elementary schools for students in need. Everything else will be donated to St. Vincent de Paul in Marquette as well as the Janzen House.

Monetary donations will also be accepted. All monetary proceeds will go directly to St. Vincent de Paul and the Janzen House.

For more information on the “Rock the Socks” event, contact the MAHS at 225-4302.

Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242.